Relocating to Marrakech can be an exciting adventure, especially if you dream of living in a beautiful riad or a palm tree surrounded by the villa. However, finding long-term rentals in Marrakech can be challenging. You will save yourself a lot of headaches following my guide to long-term rentals in Marrakech.
Updated 1st of May 2020
I have lived in Marrakech since 2015 and have rented many places. I tried various ways to find long-term rentals in Marrakech, from my connections to asking random people in the streets or relying on agents.
Long-term rentals in Marrakech – an overview
Over the last few years, finding a long-term rental in Marrakech for expats and locals has not been easy. The Marrakech long-term rental market is “exploding” because of more short-term rentals. Marrakech became popular among foreigners buying apartments and riads for short-rent businesses, making fewer places for long-term rentals.
I live in the modern and trendy part of Marrakech, called Gueliz. My foreigner friends are surprised to know how much I pay for my apartment. They imagine that Morocco is a super cheap country to live in, but the truth is… is not anymore if you want to have a decent, European quality life. My local friends opposite are surprised how little I pay for such a beautiful apartment because they know the Marrakech rental market.
I know many of you dream of living in a beautiful, authentic riad, located in the old part of Marrakech. However, unlike in Europe, the old town/Medina of Marrakech is not a dream place to live; I will tell you later why. Here is an article about my experience living in Marrakech Medina. Many, including me, dream of living in a beautiful villa or house. However, private residences or villas became very expensive. Or, if you find a cheap option, it can be far from the city.
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The rents are very reasonable if you are on a budget and willing to stay in the residential areas further from the centre. However, don’t forget that many things in Morocco work differently from in Europe.
If you are a newbie in Morocco, you will probably go to some local rental agency. Their commission is usually equal to one month’s rent. The agent will save you a lot of time and arrange viewings, paperwork etc.
The biggest online advertisement website in Morocco is called Avito. ma. Please note that on Avito, many agencies offer many property listings, so you still need to pay their commissions. When you call or send a Whatsapp message, always ask if it’s a private person or an agent.
I had a few cases when an agent posted advertising with one apartment but showed you a different one after making an appointment. He might explain that the apartment you were interested in was already rented. However, the real reason is that they want to “catch a fish” and try to sell to another place.
Another good source for finding a long-term rental is Facebook groups, such as “English speaking Expats in Marrakech” (you need to be approved by moderators), “Marrakech location et colocation / Marrakech flat rent and flat share”. You can join women-only groups and ladies there if you are a woman. Keep in mind, in some groups you will be only accepted if you live in Marrakech or will prove plans to move here asap.
Moroccans love talking; they prefer live chats or calls rather than emails or text messages. When I was looking for a place to rent, my Moroccan friend and I went to the streets and asked around. We avoided agency commissions and only paid something for a guard who helped us. However, if you don’t speak Arabic or some basic French, this task can be challenging! Be careful of random guys offering you to show places and pay something only if you decide to rent. These guys can be a pain in the ass, so be very strict.
2020 update: we decided to move to a bigger apartment and tried to ask around guards and shop owners. Unfortunately, we didn’t find anything decent as rental agencies take many flats. We realised that asking around now takes too much time and effort and relied on the real estate agent (contact me, and I will help you connect with the best agents).
Location in Marrakech matters, especially if you are an expat. Most expats prefer living in a modern district called Gueliz, located next to Medina. Gueliz was designed and built by French architects, and it has planned streets, wide boulevards, many chic restaurants and the newly built shopping mall Carre Eden.
For me, Gueliz and Medina are like 2 different worlds, a considerable contrast showing the diversity of Morocco. In Gueliz, it feels like you could be anywhere, in any European city, but it’s nice to change pace. For many tourists, Gueliz is too modern compared to the exotic Medina. However, if you like Art Deco architecture, spend some time scrolling the streets while discovering cute boutiques and cafes.
Because of modern buildings, close location to Medina and comparably safe streets, Gueliz is a bit pricey place to live. However, you will avoid a lot of attention you would get living in a traditional district by paying more. I lived in Gueliz for a year and never had problems getting home, even at night.
After Gueliz and the train station, you will find the modern Hivernage district known for nightlife, with a casino, cocktail lounges, hotel dance clubs and chic global restaurants with live music. Hivernage is calmer than Gueliz; many clubs are located further from residencies and restaurants. However, I prefer Gueliz because of its history and architecture.
Medina is called the old historical part of the city. It is walled and contains narrow streets, fountains, palaces, mosques etc. Medina of Marrakech itself has different neighbourhoods.
The Medina is always a crowded and noisy district full of hectic street markets (souks) and traffic on narrow streets. It might sound like a fun place to live, but only if you are a tourist. Trust me, daily attention and attempts to sell you anything will tire you soon.
If you still want to live in Medina, I recommend checking the Kasbah quarter of Medina. The Kasbah pays tribute to the Saadian dynasty with the famous Saadian tombs. Kasbah is more peaceful than Medina. The streets are not so busy, filled with local restaurants and street markets.
Keep in mind that riads are old buildings requiring maintenance. I wouldn’t live in a riad because I love having a lot of light in my house while riads have windows facing the inner garden. It’s excellent protection from the heat but can be too dark.
If you are moving to Marrakech with a family and planning to buy a car, I recommend renting a house outside the city centre. The best area to look for villas is Targa. However, I wouldn’t say I like most of the villas in Targa and around because of their size. They are huge; usually, 3 floors require a lot of cleaning and money to furnish. For this reason, many families rent one floor of a villa because they don’t need so much space.
The most expensive neighbourhood is Palmeraie (palm grove), a palm oasis of several hundred thousand trees with many residential villas or small villages. Renting a villa with a swimming pool can cost 1500 euro/month. In addition, there is an option to live in one of the residential villages, Palmeraie Village 1,2 or 3. An apartment in the secured residential village cost around 750 euro/month. Each so-called village has its huge swimming pools and even tennis courts.
Another good place to search for a long-term house in Marrakech is the road to Ourika or Rte d’Ourika. It’s not a posh and expensive area to live in, with small authentic villages and considerably close to Marrakech. Unfortunately, the last time I looked, in 2019, there were not many options for rent. However, if you plan to buy land, Ourika road is a perfect place, becoming more and more trendy for small boutique hotels and venues.
My other favourite (expensive) location is Marrakech Golf city Prestigia, only 4km from Marrakech centre. Prestigia is a huge secured residential area. There, you can choose either apartments or villas. Apartment prices are from 600 eur/month and villa’s cost around 2500 eur/month. I like Prestigia because it’s very secure, all apartment blocks have swimming pools, and the golf fields make it a perfect morning walk place.
Marrakech can be a very cheap and costly place to live. In Medina, you can rent a simple, small riad/house (2-3 rooms) for around 700 euro, depending on its condition. Often they are without any furniture. Bigger fancy riads will cost you from 1500 euro.
However, if you are not a fancy person, renting a mini house in Medina for even 300 euros is possible. But then, you might have a squat toilet and will need to buy your hot water tank. Read my article about a house I rented in Medina for 350 euros My home in Marrakech – loft in the heart of Medina.
A two-bedroom apartment in the modern Gueliz costs around 500 euros and does not always include furniture. However, if you don’t mind living in more traditional districts, a two-bedroom apartment outside the city centre (like Saada) will cost around 200 euros.
I have Moroccan friends who pay only 100 euros or even for their flats because of an exclusive deal with the owner, called un rhan. How does it work? You rent the landlord, e.g. 5000 euro for some years and then can pay very little rent. Then, after you move out, the landlord gives back the money. On the Moroccan online advertising places, like Avito, you will often see the word “Rhan”, meaning cheap rent with a big loan from the landlord.
Because your Moroccan landlord or agent sees you as a rich “tourist”, the rent can rise before contracts are established. I had a terrible experience on the lease signing day when the landlord decided to increase the price without any reason. However, after visiting many properties and knowing their prices, I feel much more comfortable negotiating the price.
Yes, don’t be afraid of bargaining. Rule of thumb, never show excitement seeing your dream place; play “hard to get” and complain about minor details. Never say “yes” after the first viewing. By following these steps, you can bargain the price for sure.
You must pay one or two months’ deposit/caution to sign a lease. The contract will be signed (in French or Arabic) in mokataa; ensure that all terms and conditions in the lease are precisely what the agent told you. In mokataa you will register your lease contract in a special book (yep, still an old-school system, no laptops). If you pay the rent in front, sign a paper how much money you gave. Never pay any deposit in advance without seeing a place or signing a contract!
If you are a foreigner on a tourist visa in Morocco, you can still sign a long-term contract. Always double-check if your name is spelt correctly; it sounds funny, but they misspelt my name in many contracts.
Some legal issues
Under Article 490 of the Moroccan Penal Code, all persons of the opposite sex who are not related by marriage and have sexual relations with each other are imprisoned for one month to one year.
In Morocco, you cannot rent a property legally together if you are not a married Moroccan couple. However, this rule does not apply to foreigners. If you are a foreigner couple, very rarely the landlord will ask if you are married, and if he does, say you are 🙂
Another talk is if you want to live together unmarried with a Moroccan partner. A few years ago, this was a big issue; recently, landlords became more relaxed about it.
However, I would not recommend looking for a place in a traditional neighbourhood for mixed couples. This is why many choose the modern Gueliz area or private villas. As I said, it’s more relaxed now; however, ensure you are not renting a place in a building full of local families. Ask the landlord if it’s ok to bring opposite-sex friends. Sounds funny, but if you are a single person, a visit from an opposite-sex friend (only friend), mainly Moroccan, can cause questions to the building concierge. They can even call the police!
One of my friends, a single decent guy with an excellent job from Europe, was rejected a few times by landlords because they were scared he would bring Moroccan girls. Only when he lied about having a Spanish girlfriend that lives in Europe he finally get a place.
Other important things
- Always ask who the neighbours are. If they are traditional Muslim families, you should be careful with alcohol consumption, inviting guests or walking in short clothes (concerning the traditions).
- It can be boiling in the summertime, so don’t forget to rent a place with air-conditioning. Before signing the contract, make sure the air-conditioners are working correctly.
- ! Almost every residence in Marrakech has a guard/concierge/syndica that knows all the residents, cleans the entrance and sleeps inside. Often his salary is already included in the rental price, or you need to pay him around 200-300 DH/month separately. So become friends with the concierge and tip him with some snacks and cigarettes from time to time. He can also help you change the butane gas bottle, call the electrician etc.
- Ensure that the electricity bill you receive each month is only for your place. Otherwise, you may find paying someone else’s electric bill too. My American friend, without knowing, was paying for 5 apartments!
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